Szijjártó: Hungary won't support EC oil embargo proposal in present form

EU

Péter Szijjártó

Image by irena iris szewczyk / Shutterstock.com

Hungary cannot support a proposal by the European Commission to phase in an embargo on Russian oil in its present form, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó said in a video message posted on social media, according to a report by state news wire MTI.

Speaking on the tarmac at the airport in Tashkent, after an official visit to Uzbekistan, Szijjártó said Hungary cannot "responsibly vote for the sanctions package from Brussels in this form".

Early Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a plenary session of the European Parliament that the European Union's executive body would propose an embargo on Russian oil to be phased in "within six months".

Szijjártó acknowledged that the embargo would apply to Hungary "from the end of next year", but said the proposed sanctions package would "completely destroy" the country's energy supply, which "rests on stable foundations" at present and make acquiring the volume of crude necessary for the operation of the economy "impossible".

"Hungary could only agree with these sanction measures if there is an exemption for oil deliveries via pipeline....In this case, the security of Hungary's energy supply could be maintained," he added.

Von der Leyen told MEPs the EC would propose a "complete import ban" on Russian oil.

"Today we will propose to ban all Russian oil from Europe. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined," she said, adding that the proposed embargo would involve a phase-out of Russian crude "within six months" and of refined products by the end of the year.

"Let's be clear: it will not be easy, because some Member States are strongly dependent on Russian oil. But we simply have to do it," she said.

Von der Leyen said the EC would propose excluding Sberbank, Russia's biggest lender, along with two other "major" Russian banks from the SWIFT system of international bank transfers.

It will also propose banning three big Russian state-owned broadcasters from EU airwaves, blocking their content via cable, satellite, internet, and smartphone apps, she added.

She also said the EC would propose a ban on the services of "accountants, consultants and spin-doctors from Europe" to Russian companies.

Asked for comment by Reuters, Zoltan Kovács, the Hungarian government's international spokesman, said the proposed oil embargo lacks any guarantee for Hungary's energy security.

"We do not see any plans or guarantees on how a transition could be managed based on the current proposals, and how Hungary's energy security would be guaranteed," he said.

Landlocked Hungary gets 65% of its crude via pipeline from Russia. The country's biggest refinery, operated by oil and gas company MOL, is technically reliant on Russian crude.

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